Friday, November 30, 2012

'2012-13 NBA Season: 8 Most Underrated Players In The NBA'

Bledose could start on a lot of NBA teams.
Eric Bledsoe, G, Los Angeles Clippers
3rd year, Kentucky, 2010 - 1st round, 18th pick (Oklahoma City Thunder)
2012-13 stats: 15 games, 9.7 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.6 apg, 1.3 spg

Try being a young NBA guard competing with minutes behind the league's premier point guard in Chris Paul, former NBA Finals MVP Chauncey Billups, and former Sixth Man of the Year and scoring machine Jamal Crawford (leads team with 17.5 ppg) on the same roster as you. This is exactly what Bledsoe is faced with, and is only averaging around 18 minutes per game, but the boy sure knows how to make every minute count. His stats show that if he got more minutes, he would be one of the premier guards in the league. Besides shooting a sizzling 49.6-percent from the field, Bledsoe ranks 31st in scoring per 48 minutes (25.0) and seventh in steals per 48 minutes (3.28). You can also catch the kid on the nightly highlight reels, as he uses his freak athleticism to make plays above the rim.

Al-Farouq Aminu, F, New Orleans Hornets
3rd year, Wake Forest, 2010 - 1st round, 8th pick (Los Angeles Clippers)
2012-13 stats: 14 games, 10.3 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.8 spg

After being a spot starter for most of his previous two NBA seasons, Aminu is finally coming into his own with the Hornets in his role as starting small forward.  He started 14 of the last 17 games last year and has started all 14 games this year with steadily increasing results.  Aminu is shooting 49.6-percent from the field (career 40.2-percent entering season) in just shy of 32 minutes per game.  Defense and rebounding are the six-foot nine-inch swingman's best attributes.  Aminu pulled down a career-high 16 rebounds Nov. 7 vs. the Philadelphia Sixers and has recorded a steal in 13 of the 14 team games played so far this season.

Carl Landry, F, Golden State Warriors
6th year, Purdue, 2007 - 2nd round, 1st pick (Seattle SuperSonics)
2012-13 stats: 15 games, 14.2 ppg, 7.1 rpg

Landry has showed glimpses of double-double potential, as he averaged 18 points per game and 6.5 rebounds per game after being traded from the Houston Rockets to the Sacramento Kings midway through the 2009-10 season. He'll never get the attention he deserves, because his game isn't very flashy, but his steady play will always earn him starters minutes.  Landry, who has never shot less than 49-percent from the field in his career, is currently hitting at a 58-percent clip.

Sessions is an underrated scoring threat.
Ramon Sessions, G, Charlotte Bobcats
6th year, Nevada-Reno, 2007 - 2nd round, 26th pick (Miami Heat)
2012-13 stats: 14 games, 16.5 ppg, (tied with Kemba Walker for team lead) 3.7 rpg, 4.3 apg

Sessions is off to a sizzling start in his first year in Charlotte, averaging a career-best 16.5 points per game (previous career high, 13.3ppg, 2010-11 with Cleveland Cavaliers) while coming off the bench. He's only shooting 20.6-percent from three-point range after shooting 45.2-percent last year, but there is no denying the impact he has had on the Bobcats turnaround from a dreadful 2011-12 season.

Reggie Evans, F, Brooklyn Nets
11th year, Iowa, Undrafted
2012-13 stats: 14 games, 3.0 ppg, 8.6 rpg

The 2012 version of Dennis Rodman?  Better known for flopping and poor free-throw shooting (which Rodman was also known for, by the way) Evans is turning into one of the most prolific rebounders in NBA history.  The 11-year veteran leads the NBA in rebounds per 48 minutes at 21.1 and is 8.6 rebounds per game average is tied with New York Knicks center Tyson Chandler for 19th in the NBA.  Evans averages 19.5 minutes per game, mainly due to him being an offensive liability, but his rebound average makes him the only player in the NBA in the top 50 rebounders that averages less than 23 mpg.

Wesley Matthews, G, Portland Trail Blazers
4th year, Marquette, Undrafted
2012-13 stats: 16.8 ppg, 2.4 apg, 2.1 spg

Matthews played in all 82 games as a rookie for the Utah Jazz (48 starts), all 82 games his first year with Portland (69 starts) and has not missed a single game to this point in his NBA career (245 games).  Not bad for a guy that no team selected in the 2009 NBA Draft after a successful career at Dwyane Wade's alma-mater.  Want more consistency?  He's shooting 44.5-percent from the field, just below his 44.8-percent career average entering the season and his steals per game average has increased by about 0.4 each year since he's been in the league (2.1 spg this year compared to 0.8 his rookie year, 1.2 his second year, and 1.6 last year).  Only inconsistency has come in free-throw shooting. Matthews has already missed 20 free-throws (39-59) after only missing 24 all last year (147-171).  His 2.4 assists per game is better than what he has done and should continue to increase with the offensive improvement of Nicolas Batum (career-high 17.9 ppg ) and a healthy LaMarcus Aldridge.

Conley is becoming a true floor general.
Mike Conley, Jr., G, Memphis Grizzlies
6th year, Ohio State, 2007 - 1st round, 4th pick (Memphis Grizzlies)
2012-13 stats: 12 games, 14.9 ppg, 6.4 apg, 2.2 spg

More known as a penetrator, defender, and distributor than a scoring point guard, Conley is finally starting to put together the type of season people expected him to after he and Greg Oden led the Buckeyes to a memorable NCAA tournament run a few years ago.  Through 12 games Conley has been dynamic for the Grizzlies, shooting 50-percent from the field, and 43.5-percent from three-point range.  Conley is ranked 10th in the NBA in adjusted field goal percentage, leads all NBA point guards in adjusted field goal percentage (57.8).   There's nothing to sniff at on the other side of the ball either, as his 2.2 steals per game ranks him 3rd in the NBA.

Goran Dragic, G, Phoenix Suns
5th year, Yugoslavia, 2008 - 2nd round, 15th pick (San Antonio Spurs)
2012-13 stats: 16 games, 15.8 ppg (leads team), 2.9 rpg, 6.8 apg , 2.1 spg

Dragic has proved to be one of the better point guards in the NBA both as a scorer and a passer. He's currently boosted his scoring average by four points per game (11.7 ppg last year with Houston Rockets) and ranks second amongst NBA point guards in adjusted field goal percentage (54.7). Goran is a magician with the rock that also distributes the ball efficiently, ranking 10th in the NBA amongst starting point guards in assist to turnover ratio (2.9).

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